Chinese Temples in California

Bok Kai Temple: Corner of D and First Streets, Marysville (40 miles north of Sacramento). Bok Kai is the Cantonese pronunciation of Bei Hai, part of the title Bei Hai Zhen Ren. This god is also known as Xuan Wu, Zhen Wu, Xuan Tian Shang Di and Bei Di. Open on the first Saturday of every month from noon-4pm. Built in 1879. The Temple sponsors the annual Bok Kai Parade and Festival.

Jeng Sen Buddhism and Taoism Association: 146 Waverly Place, San Francisco. Dedicated to 1) Immortal Master Lu Sun Yang (patron deity of the temple), 2) Shakyamuni Buddha and the great Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and 3) Supreme Old Lord Lao Zi and the Great Immortals and Celestial Deities. The festival calendar is available on their website. Founded in 1957, first integrated Taoist-Buddhist temple in the United States.

Kong Chow Temple, SF: 855 Stockton Street, San Francisco. Dedicated to the god Guan Di, who is often referred to as the “Chinese god of war and literature.” Visitors are welcome but photography is not allowed inside the temple. Open hours 8:30-4 daily. Founded in 1849.

Kong Chow Temple, LA: 931 N. Broadway, Los Angeles. Founded in 1891, relocated in 1947. The statue of Guan Di is gilded, and apparently eight feet tall!

Kwan Tai Temple: 45160 Albion Street, Mendocino (150 miles north of San Francisco). Also dedicated to Guan Di. Visits by appointment. According to oral history, it was built in 1852; records show the site was owned by the Chinese by 1867 and that formal opening ceremonies were held November 4, 1882.

Ma-tsu Temple U.S.A.: 30 Beckett Street, San Francisco. Founded in 1986 by Taiwanese-Chinese immigrants as offshoot of the Chaotian Temple in Beigang, Taiwan. Moved to current location in 1996.

Oakland Neighborhood Shrines: Buddhist shrine at East 19th Ave/11th St intersection, Buddha statue placed 2009 by Dan Stevenson, new structure built 2012 by Vietnamese Buddhists. Quan Am Tu (Guan Yin) shrine at 12th Ave/20th St intersection.

Quong Ming Jade Emperor Palace: 1123 Powell Street, San Francisco. Formerly the San Francisco Korean United Methodist Church, built in 1928, purchased by the Quong Ming Buddhism and Taoism Society in 1995.

Tien Hou Temple: 125 Waverly Place, San Francisco. Tien Hou means Queen of Heaven, she is also called Mazu and is a goddess who protects seafarers and the overseas Chinese. Open hours 10-4. Built in 1852, the altar miraculously survived the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Weaverville Joss House AKA Temple of the Forest Beneath the Clouds: Southwest corner of Hwy 299 and Oregon Street intersection, Weaverville (260 miles north of San Francisco). The gods in residence are those of Health, Decision, and Mercy. “Worshipers are forbidden to pray for such things as wealth (though they might ask for help in making the right business decision) or revenge on an enemy, and the temple attendant would punish with a fine those who made such requests.” Open Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. Built in 1852 or 1853, rebuilt in 1874.

Now Museums

Auburn Joss House: 200 Sacramento Street, Auburn (30 miles northeast of Sacramento). Appointment required to tour. Built in 1909.

Bakersfield Replica Joss House: 3801 Chester Avenue, Bakersfield. The Joss House blog says the deities of this temple were/are Kwan Yin (the Buddhist bodhisattva Guan Yin), Tien Hou, and Hua Tíao, a God of Medicine. Associated with Hua Tiao there were/are divinatory Oracle Sticks and Book used to prescribe herbs for healing. Open 9a-5pm Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5pm on Sundays. The original temple was constructed in the 1870s, the current replica contains religious items donated by the local Chinese community.

Hanford Taoist Temple: 12 China Alley, Hanford (33 miles south of Fresno). Contains carved images of the Eight Immortals. Built in 1893.

Ng Shing Gung Replica: 1650 Senter Road, San Jose. The temple housed statues of Kwan Yin, Choi Sun (Cai Shen, God of Wealth), Chen Huan (God of Canton City), Kwan Gung (Guan Gong), and Tien Hou. As part of the History Park at Kelley Park, it is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-4pm. Built in 1888, dismantled 1949, replicated 1991.

Oroville Chinese Temple: 1500 Broderick Street, Oroville (70 miles north of Sacramento). Buddhist and Confucian, plus a council/community room. Served a local Chinese population of 10,000! Dedicated in spring of 1863.

Not Open to Public

Cambria Red House: 2264 Center Street, Cambria (30 miles north of San Luis Obispo). “Comprised of three separate buildings, the Red House was joined together around 1920.” According to the National Park Service, “The former Buddhist temple forms the living room of the house, and still retains the altar shelf for the Buddha, flanked by the paraphernalia closets. The former Taoist temple, joined to the Buddhist temple, forms the kitchen.”

Other Historical Sites

Bing Kong Tong: 29 Main Street, Isleton (56 miles northeast of Oakland). The Isleton Historical Society is restoring the former Tong building and turning it into a museum. “The Isleton Tong helped merchants and provided social events, making their building – which they erected in 1926 – the community center.” Restoration began in September 2012 and is still accepting donations. Their interim museum is at 33 Main Street and is open by appointment.

Evergreen Cemetery: Evergreen Street, Santa Cruz. Look for the large arch of the Chinese Memorial.

Folsom Cemeteries: Chung Wah Cemetery, Young Wo Cemetery

15 responses to “Chinese Temples in California

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